The Camargue, the great delta of the Rhône, produces 75% of France’s rice. It has all the essential ingredients: water for the roots, heat, and wind—the famous Mistral—that keeps the plants dry and free of disease.
Rice growing in the Camargue began in the 16th century, was renowned in the 19th century, then almost died out in France in the 20th century when cheaper rice was imported from French Indochine (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). When these were halted in the Second World War, people once again looked to the Camargue—and starting in 1945, under the Marshall Plan, irrigation systems were put in place.
Today the Camargue produces rice in three colours—white, black and red, the latter a natural mutation that in 2000 was given its IGP status. It has a distinct nutty flavour.
Besides Camargue rice, Basmati, Thai Jasmin, paëlla rice, risotto rice, etc are all available in most French supermarkets.
Images by FASTILY (TALK), Véronique PAGNIER